hi all

hi all! okay, this is not my first laby fic---it is, however, the first one I'm posting. it starts out a little odd, but it gets better. at least, I hope it does! ^_^ let me know what you think!

Title: Twice Upon A Time

Author: Loki

Rating: R, mostly for language.

Archive: if you want it, ask. I'm not in the habit of saying no. ^_^

Disclaimer: all standard ones apply.

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Prologue: A Prince So Fair

"There once was a mortal girl. A girl, no more. She was born in a land of partial myths and deceptions. But it taught her much, and she was better because of it."

"She was . . .mortal? Without magic and dreams?"

"Oh no! She had dreams. She ruled over a world of dreams. And her magic sparkled there. But she was nothing like you and I, mind you. Her magic was here," she traced a light circle on the little boy's breast, directly over his heart.

"Could she weave nets out of moonlight?"

"Well, no."

"Could she steal a ride from Gauvin du Jura?" the younger of the two, a girl with silvery blonde ringlets falling over her slight shoulders, piped in.

Her mother chuckled softly, tucked a stray curl behind her ear. "Now, Maja, you know that no one has ever ridden Gauvin du Jura."

Auberon placed his small hands on his hips and raised his chin in an almost perfect imitation of his father. "Papa did!"

She smiled very small, gathered the boy into her lap and began combing her long fingers through his baby-fine locks. It was no use answering the challenge that sparked in his expressive, wide eyes. Though she was going to have to speak to 'Papa' about these unbelievably tall tales he was telling. They were practically giants! Maja, never one to sit idly by while her brother received all the attention, crawled up as well.

"Now where was I . . . Ah!" she put a finger to Maja's lips just as they parted for speech. "Besides these numerous lacks---the girl had somehow managed to call to her hand unlimited paths, in a world that knew no other way."

"But," came a slightly accented voice from the threshold, "with so many paths---this enchanting young mortal needed a little direction."

"*She* needed direction?" Sarah hissed.

He swept to her side in a flourish of glittering lace and velvet, leaned down and kissed her cheek. The flashing annoyance in her eyes prompted a sudden mischievous curve to his lips. He then fell into the seat across from the adoring eyes of the children, never failing to make the chair and gravity bend to his will. Sarah wanted to be irritated by this wedding of setting and individual, but it was one of the many things she secretly loved about him.

Auberon immediately untangled himself from her arms and pounced upon his father. Maja stayed put, warm and content where she was.

"Father, didn't you ride Gauvin du Jura?"

Jareth shot a look to his wife, not failing to grasp her disapproval. And of course, she in turn did not miss his amusement. She quickly looked away to hide her smile.

"Well," he managed to take even longer by situating the small boy into the crook of his arm. When Sarah saw them all together like this . . .her heart longed for nothing else.

Jareth caught her continuing gaze and smiled, his head tilting to the side. And that was all it took to seduce the blood rushing up to her face. He was still the monster from her youthful flights of fancy, but now he had somehow stolen the part of the dashing prince as well. Sarah was not in the least surprised.

She shook her head, drew Maja closer against her side and tried to begin again. "Now," she stressed the word out, waiting to see if anything else would interrupt. When all remained silent as the dead, except for the distant twinkling of chimes, she was satisfied. She settled into the velvet amber cushions and called forth her next words.

"It was a beautiful evening, much like this. The sickle moon was hovering over the horizon in a ghostly cloak of grey. The first star of the night had just appeared, dancing out of reach in compliment---"

"She certainly has a way with words, doesn't she?"

Sarah glared as Jareth whispered in the boy's ear, though his eyes never left her face. His head raised back up and he smiled innocently, a very interesting trick for Jareth.

She tried again. "That night a quiet stole over her house, and try as she might she could not sleep. And then, as she lay in conflict with the ceiling, she recalled a place that always calmed her fevered heart---an enchanted park. Obeying an urge she could not understand she took herself out and down to that park, stepping from moon beam to moon beam, shadow to shadow until the great swaying trees rose up before her.

"And amongst the dim flowers she spotted a twinkle, like a small star that had fallen from the sky. Curious as ever she cautiously parted all the silken petals and cool leaves to discover---"

"Was it a Lorialet?"

"Don't be silly," Auberon snapped at his sister. "Lorialets don't twinkle. Was it a Pillywiggin?" The boy looked to his mother curiously, that inherited pride making him appear much older than his seven years. Her eyes passed up to Jareth but he only wriggled his oddly arched eyebrows at her.

"It was a thread."

"A thread," both children cried in unison, then glanced at each other because they weren't certain what the significance was, but didn't want the other to know that they didn't know.

Sarah nodded. "A very beautiful thread, like a band of quicksilver, or roped moonlight. The girl stared down at it for several moments, thoughts flying across her face. Why did it shine so? Where did it come from? Was it . . .of her world? Finally she could stand it no more, reached and ran a finger down it, flinching, waiting for it to wrap around her flesh." Sarah paused and made a point to meet each of the three pairs of eyes that were staring at her.

"Nothing. The thread glinted in the half-light, smooth and soft and inviting closer inspection. Courage filling her breast and she picked it up, twirled it between her delicate fingers. Nothing, but its beauty, so she took back to her walking, winding the thread as she went and wondering where the other end lay.

"Before she knew it she had walked into the deeper edge of twenty minutes and still had not come to an end. But while her thoughts had been away too many changes to count had been occurring around her. Moonlight had phased into filtering sunlight. The quiet evening had turned into birds' song. Sensing something odd her eyes raised, and then widened."

Sarah took a filling breath and made sure everyone was hanging on her every word. Even Jareth, who had heard the story several times before, seemed to be waiting for her to continue.

"Dashes of colour upon dashes of colour, lovely flowers crawling up trees. Wonder of all wonders---the girl had never seen such a garden before. Her feet carried her on, over a stone curving path, under arbors, arches, under a canopy of flowering branches and over bridges and secret glittering pools. Fountains of flowers, vivid islands, rich patchworks of colour . . .swift strokes of colour passed before her eyes in a dazzling display of enchantment. It spoke of privacy, seclusion, beauty, serenity, magic---A place you go to find oneself, or your dream-lover, hidden among the trees, soft petals in his hair. She gazed about her, feeling plain and insignificant in the face of such beauty."

Jareth was clearly just as taken as the children with her swift words. Father and son shared almost the same expression. Sarah crooked a finger under Maja's chin and turned her face up to her. An unspoken understanding flew between them, tailed by amusement.

"Now, this mortal girl was not stupid. She knew she was no longer in the safety of her park, she wasn't even certain if she was in the same realm anymore. But all that crowded around her was just so breathtaking . . .she couldn't fear it yet. She smiled like a child up into ancient trees, sun broke through their branches and something like stardust appeared in the gilded light. She sighed in appreciation, the silver thread momentarily forgotten as she raised her hand to a sparkling gold shaft. Warmth crept along her skin, sent tingles up her nerves. And she knew . . .she was touching magic.

"She absorbed as much of the scenery as she could, standing in complete silence. Then set off down the curving stone path again, following the silver thread and winding it as she went. Several more yards and the path began to widen, open. Directly ahead of her she could then see a small clearing, the shadows of reaching branches dancing over it. Large stones became natural seats and soft flowers became natural pillows. Amongst those impressive stones was an old-fashioned well with a canopy of sterling roses and accents of crystalline dewdrops. And beside that well stood a prince so fair, holding the other end of the silver thread in his kind hands . . ."